Month: July 2016

The Simpsons – Funny Business – The New Statesman – tape 1348

We start our fourth disc of VHS rips with a mixed bag of programmes.

First is an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa The Beauty Queen.

After this, recording continues for a bit with the start of an episode of 21 Jump Street. This starts off with some vignettes of the characters as small children at school, and the first instance is actually extremely creepy. The children are supposed to be lying down and having quiet time, but two of the boys are looking up a girl’s skirt. And the camera usefully gives us a point of view shot of what they’re looking at. This feels ultra creepy.

Then recording switches to BBC2 and the end of an episode of Realms of the Russian Bear.

There’s a short programme after this, Talking Sickert in which Beryl Reid looks at the painting Little Dot Hetherington.

Then, an episode of Funny Business with Rowan Atkinson looking at visual humour. He starts his lecture from the Benjamin P Hill Memorial Library.

Rowan Atkinson

This could have been a fairly ordinary clip show, but Atkinson illustrates a large number of the programme’s ideas himself, and there’s as much original material from Atkinson as there are clips.

He’s assisted in his illustration by Felicity Montagu

Felicity Montagu and Rowan Atkinson

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd November 1992 – 20:05

After this, there’s another of the Talking Sickert programmes, with painter John Wonnacott talking about The Studio: The Painter and his Model

Recording continues for a few minutes, with the start of Building Sights Europe, then switches to LWT where we get a quick weather bulletin, then another episode of The New Statesman, this one called Back from the Mort. It’s the first in this series (the episode on the previous tape being the last, usefully) and sees Alan returning from three years in a Russian prison camp.

Piers isn’t pleased to see him back, because he’s got a son, and also because Alan’s incarceration was partly his doing.

Fletcher Dervish and Son

Alan gets Piers to give up his seat for another MP, and for Piers to become a European commissioner.

Next (after another bit of ITV Weather) is H*A*S*H. There’s a vote on legislation for the legalisation of Cannabis, and Alan is tasked with making sure Piers’ speech is so ludicrous that it won’t be passed.

Tom Chadbon turns up as a dutch commissioner.

Tom Chadbon

The final episode on this tape is Speaking In Tongues. Alan takes against the translation service, and wants to replace them with a computer, invented by Christopher Ryan (again).

Christopher Ryan again

After this episode the recording stops, and underneath there’s part of the TV movie Where Angels Fear to Tread, before the tape ends.

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Absolutely Fabulous – The New Statesman – tape 1352

With this tape, we reach a small milestone for this blog. This is the last tape on my third 4TB hard drive of recordings. That’s 12TB of video watched wince this blog started. And there’s plenty more to come.

This tape opens with the end of an old-style Top Gear with Tony Mason looking at some bike racing, the kind of thing the programme never bothered with in its later incarnation.

There’s a trailer for We Have Ways of Making You Think, looking at Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. “Goebbels almost never tried to change the Germans’ view about anything. His secret was to reinforce previously held prejudices in an entertaining way.” Scary, given the news these days.

Then, Absolutely Fabulous, with what appears to be the first ever episode. It’s odd that the first tape and the last tape on this hard drive were both Absolutely Fabulous.

Eddy and Saffy

“I’m going down in history as the woman who put Princess Anne in a Vivienne Westwood basque.”

Now, it’s not that I dislike Absolutely Fabulous, but it’s not one of my favourite things, and I think that’s because it doesn’t really rely on having any plot, just lurching from one drunken scene of Patsy and Eddy to another.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 12th November 1992 – 21:00

In the next episode, Eddy is worried about her weight. We learn that Patsy is an admirer of Ivana Trump.

Patsy

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th November 1992 – 21:00

In the next episode, Eddy’s in France with Patsy, Saffy and Bubble. It’s a bit early in the series for the sit-com to take a holiday, isn’t it? They normally wait for the movie spin-off…

A relaxing holiday in France

Geoffrey McGivern plays a customs officer.

Geoffrey McGivern Absolutely Fabulous

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th November 1992 – 21:00

Saffy has some friends around studying. They’re all desperate to pretend they’re not massively well off.

Saffy doesn’t want Eddy to go to her school open day. But when they do go, they have flashbacks.

School flashbacks

Eddy accidentally adopts a lot of Romanian babies, but then we discover the whole episode was a dream, as Eddy was floating in an isolation tank.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd December 1992 – 21:00

In the next episode, Eddy joins Patsy at her job at a magazine. Guest starring Kathy Burke as Magda the editor.

Kathy Burke as Magda

Helen Lederer also appears.

Helen Lederer in AbFab

Ade Edmondson too

Ade Edmondson

Eleanor Bron plays Patsy’s mum in a flashback

Eleanor Bron in AbFab

Dawn French plays a Morning TV presenter

Dawn French

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th December 1992 – 21:00

Next, it’s Edina’s 40th birthday and she’s not happy about it. Mo Gaffney and Christopher Ryan guest star.

Mo Gaffney and Christopher Ryan

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th December 1992 – 21:00

After this episode, we switch to LWT for an episode of The New Statesman. This is The Irresistible Rise of Alan B’Stard. Alan is on an anti-Europe tear.

Euro B'Stard

He persuades the party to leave the Common Market, and the Conservative party is going to split in two. Good grief, this is Brexit, except that it’s the Tories who are imploding in this one, and not Labour.

There’s even a Hillary Clinton reference to tie it further to today’s news.

And Piers’ baby is called Gervais.

Alan’s anti-Europe coalition wins a landslide. This is all seeming very familiar.

Victorious Alan

After this, recording continues. There’s a brilliant little Christmas interstitial with Enya giving us a Christmas greeting in Gaelic. Entirely in Gaelic (apart from “Hi this is Enya” at the start. She lives in a castle, and she does whatever the hell she wants.

ITV: “Hi Enya, this is ITV, we’re shooting some Christmas greetings, could you do one for us?”
Enya: “OK, but I’m doing it in Gaelic.”
ITV: “But Enya, this is for the UK, nobody speaks Irish Gaelic here.”
Enya: sings Orinoco Flow
ITV: “OK, Enya, let’s go for a take.”

Then there’s late news, leading with a prison riot. This is followed by some very christmassy weather. This broadcast was on Christmas Day 1992.

Christmas Weather

Following this, there’s the start of The Godfather, and the tape ends during the start of the film.

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Gremlins 2 – The New Batch – Arachnophobia – tape 1354

This tape opens with a saucy trailer for Sky Movies’ After Dark season.

Then we get the movie proper, and it’s Gremlins 2 The New Batch. Joe Dante’s sequel to his original classic is possibly one of his greatest movies. It’s pure, refined Dante, featuring pretty much everything that a Joe Dante movie should have, plus loads and loads of gremlins.

It opens with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck arguing over who should represent 50 (60?) years of Looney Tunes.

It opens, as did the original, in Chinatown, where Mr Wing’s (Keye Luke) antique store, where Gizmo the Mogwai came from originally resides. Dante favourite Robert Picardo arrives, with a message from the property developer, Daniel Clamp, offering to buy up his store. But he isn’t interested. However, he’s also quite old and ill, and Picardo says, as he’s leaving, “Did you hear that cough? He’s an antique. We can wait.”

Robert Picardo

I love the Clamp company logo, a squashed Earth in a huge clamp.

Clamp Logo

Six Weeks Later, and Mr Wing is dead, and they’re demolishing his shop – without clearing it out, because Gizmo’s still in there. The animatronic work in this movie was by Rick Baker, taking over from Chris Walas on the first film, and his studio must have been massively busy, given the amount and scale of the creature work in this movie.

Gizmo

Gizmo alone does a lot more than he did in the first movie – right away, we see him running to escape the demolition, although the blue screen work is slightly noticeable. Gizmo is found by someone who catches him, but we don’t yet know who he is.

Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates return from the first movie, and their first job is to set up an explanation as to why the Futtermans from the first film, who we’d probably assumed were killed by Gremlins driving a plough through their home, are actually still alive, and visiting them later.

Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates

They work in the Clamp Center, a huge, fully automated office building. And it’s a somewhat hostile work environment. Even as they enter the building, a man gets thrown from the spinning revolving door.

Billy’s boss isn’t very nice to him, and Robert Picardo comes around to tell him he can’t have a potted plant, or his own picture on his cubicle wall. He uses a barcode scanning wand to scan Billy’s barcode so he can find out his name.

Picardo is a horrible enforcer. He sacks the unfortunate Henry Gibson (another Dante favourite, from The ‘Burbs) when he lights up an unauthorised cigarette. (Although smoking is allowed – Billy’s boss has a cigarette. Smoking in offices is already seeming like something that happened a generation ago.)

Henry Gibson

Kate works as a tour guide, whose hats are brilliant.

Tour Guide Hat

Also operating from the building is the Clamp Cable Network, where horror host Robert Prosky shows old movies – one of which was (I think) one of the first movies Rick Baker worked on, Octoman.

Octoman

It doesn’t even show up in iMDb, so perhaps I’m making it up – maybe it was part of a different movie, as a spoof. But I’m fairly sure Baker built the monster.

Joe Dante himself pops up in a cameo as the TV director directing Prosky’s segment.

Joe Dante

One of the other tenants in the building is a scientific research centre run by Dr Catheter, the great Christopher Lee.

Christopher Lee

It was one of his scientists who captured Gizmo, and Billy learns that Gizmo when a mail carrier passes by whistling so he goes to investigate. The receptionist is using a Classic Mac.

Classic Mac

Clamp’s own receptionist also has a classic Mac, which seems to be attached to a newer Macintosh version, when they stopped being all-in-ones.

Clamp Loves Macs

The automated voices throughout the building are brilliant. Billy enters the toilet. “Mr, welcome to the Men’s Room” Another man leaves: “Hey Pal, I sure hope you washed those hands.”

When Billy brings Gizmo back to his office, there’s excitement as Daniel Clamp himself comes to visit, not something that usually happens. He sees Billy’s concept drawing of the proposed Clamp Chinatown development and really likes it, so Billy’s boss, Marla, latches on to him. She’s still smoking.

John Glover as Daniel Clamp

She insists that she and Billy go out to dinner to discuss her plans for advancement so he has to ask Kate to take Gizmo home. She’s horrified at the thought of more Gremlins.

Before she can reach him, though, a janitor (played by John Astin, father of Sean and TV’s Gomez Addams) fixing a water fountain manages to get Gizmo wet, and a whole bunch of new Mogwai are hatched.

John Astin

Another announcement: “Will the owner of the car 1AG 401 please remove it from the Clamp Parking Garage. Your car is old and dirty.”

Kate gets to Billy’s office and finds a Mogwai there, but it’s not Gizmo, although she doesn’t realise.

Not Gizmo

When Billy realises it’s not Gizmo, he has to go back to the building, but they’re interrupted by their visitors from Kingston Falls – It’s the Futtermans, Dick Miller (who’s in every single Joe Dante movie) and Jackie Joseph, whom we had presumed died in the first film.

Dick Miller and Jackie Joseph

The other Mogwai are busy stuffing themselves – composer Jerry Goldsmith makes a cameo appearance.

Jerry Goldsmith

The film is just overflowing with non sequiturs, like the police van that’s carrying a gang of arrested mimes.

Arrested Mimes

Billy gets arrested trying to close the buildings doors down, and when he gets back to the building, the Gremlins have had plenty of time to pupate.

“We’re experiences a temporary problem with our illumination. Please try not to notice.”

There’s a great scene where Billy tries to explain the Gremlin rules to the people in the control room, and they start having exactly the same kinds of pedantic, nitpicky arguments about interpreting the rules that everyone had after the first film. “What if they were on a plane, and it crossed into another timezone? It’s always after midnight somewhere.” One of the control room team is comedian Archie Hahn.

Archie Hahn

In a couple of scenes, you can hear that the sound the lift doors make is the classic Star Trek lift sound.

Leonard Maltin appears, doing a negative review of the original Gremlins on video.

Leonard Maltin

The Gremlins get into Christopher Lee’s lab, and start drinking all his experiments, which leads to a whole slew of mutated gremlins, like the vegetable gremlin.

Vegetable Gremlin

Christopher Lee appears holding a pod from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Pod Person

The Brain Gremlin talks like Tony Randall, and lets us hear the Gremlins’ side of things for once.

Brain Gremlin

There’s a bat gremlin, which the Brain injects with genetic sunblock, featuring some lovely stop motion.

“Please take a moment at this time to locate the exit nearest to you, and to go through it very quickly. because of the danger that is here in the building.”

“Fire! The untamed element, oldest of man’s mysteries, giver of warmth, destroyer of forests, right now this building is on fire. Leave the building. Enact the age-old drama of self preservation.”

Outside in the city, the Futtermans are sightseeing, looking around The Cathedral of Saint Eva Marie. They’re attacked by the Bat Gremlin, but Mr Futterman manages to cover it in concrete, and it flies back to the top of the cathedral and forms a gargoyle.

Bat Gremlin

The Gremlins don’t always break stuff. They’ve taken the time to build a lego gremlin.

Lego Gremlin

At this point, the film breaks down. This is quite cool, as there were at least two versions of this scene. In cinemas, they do the projector stopping/film melting gag, then some gremlins do shadow puppets, then an old black and white ‘nudist’ film starts, and it cuts to a cinema where an outraged mother is complaining to the manager. Hulk Hogan also appears in this segment.

But the version here is a different one, designed for TV showings, where the picture appears to break down, and we get the same gremlin shadows, but over static.

Gremlin Static Shadows

Then there’s some random news footage, and a sequence featuring archive footage of John Wayne, with some gremlins, plus a clip from an old Bugs Bunny movie featuring a gremlin.

Bugs Bunny and Gremlin

There’s even a Gremlin testcard

Gremlin testcard

Here’s that scene.

I’m slightly disappointed that the version currently playing on demand on NowTV has the original movie breakdown scene. And I’m absolutely sure there was a third version of this breakdown scene designed specifically for the VHS release, but it’s nowhere to be found on YouTube so perhaps I just imagined it, and they actually just used the TV breakdown version.

Horror Host Robert Prosky is still in the now abandoned Cable studio, and realises that he’s got exclusive access to a massive news story, so he grabs a Japanese tourist to operate the camera, and starts broadcasting from the building.

Robert Prosky

The sight gags are coming thick and fast now. Here’s a particular favourite.

Acid Do Not Throw In Face

Christopher Lee gets electrocuted by an electric gremlin, which then gets trapped in the building’s phone system as a telephone call on hold.

Electric Gremlin

Billy is tied up, and a dentist gremlin starts trying to drill his teeth, just to get a Marathon Man reference in there. But I laughed.

Dentist Gremlinb

having watched Rambo on TV earlier in the movie, Gizmo gets all tooled up to save the day.

Gizmo Rambo

Kate : “Something terrible happened to me on Lincoln’s birthday…”

There’s a huge production number, when the Gremlins are all gathered in the lobby waiting to go outside. Billy’s plan is to turn the clocks in the building forward so they think it’s night outside, then open the doors and the sun will kill them. But the clouds roll in and the sun is blocked out, so that plan won’t work.

So Billy gets Mr Futterman to turn the firehoses on the gremlins, so they all start hatching new gremlins, and when they’re all deep in water, he transfers the electric gremlin on hold to a nearby phone, and releases it into the water, electrocuting all the gremlins.

Cue more gags, like a Wizard of Oz reference.

I'm Melting

So everything is tied up nicely. Clamp falls in love with Billy’s boss, Marla (is that a reference to another idiotic New York developer who had an affair with somebody called Marla? Except John Glover is far more personable and attractive than Donald Trump ever was.)

After the end credits, there’s more animation from Daffy and Bugs, with a credit to Chuck Jones.

Title Animation written and directed by Chuck Jones

But that’s not all on this tape, for next, we have Arachnophobia. I first saw this before it was released officially in the UK, at the London Film Festival, because it was that year’s surprise film. I loved it, but there were a surprising number of walkouts when the title appeared.

It opens with Julian Sands – this is usually a bad sign for a film, but here he’s perfectly fine, his stiff Englishness suiting his character perfectly. He’s on a scientific mission to collect and catalogue new species of insects and spiders.

Julian Sands

His photographer gets bitten by a large spider, and dies, and his body is packed in a coffin and sent back to his home town – with one of the spiders in tow.

When it arrives in his home town, it gets out of the coffin, having sucked the body dry. Then it leaves the morgue, is picked up by a crow, which drops it further out of town when it kills it, and ends up in a barn of the house where Jeff Daniels and his family are just moving in.

Jeff Daniels

Daniels is moving in to the town to take over the general medical practice of the local doctor who’s retiring, and selling him his practice.

Meanwhile, in the barn, the giant south american spider is getting friendly with a local species.

Spider Sex

When Danels goes to see him, the old doctor has changed his mind and decided not to retire yet, leaving Daniels to open his surgery with no patients. Except one, Margaret Hollins (Mary Carver) a local woman who doesn’t have a high opinion of old Doctor Metcalf. But she’s the epitome of good health – he even tells her she doesn’t need the tablets Dr Metcalf prescribed for her blood pressure.

Jeff Daniels and Mary Carver

It’s established that Daniels is deeply arachnophobic since a childhood trauma. His wife tries to get him to face his fears by looking at the massive spiders’ webs in the barn, but it doesn’t help.

A few weeks later, Margaret throws a party for Daniels to welcome him to the town, and so that the locals know he’s there, and he might drum up some business. It’s a nice scene which introduces plenty of the townspeople in an organic way, and manages to impart some important plot points.

After the party, one of the newly hatched hybrid spiders gets into Margaret’s house. The spiders are a lot smaller than the one which came from the Amazon, but they’re no less deadly.

Daniels calls on Margaret the next day to find her dead. Dr Metcalf thinks it was a heart attack, and accuses Daniels of malpractice for taking her off her hypertension medication. Daniels knows it must have been something else, but Metcalf refuses to authorise a post mortem.

To compound their woes, he finds that his cellar is rotten, and thinks there must be termites, so they call in the exterminator, a brilliant performance from John Goodman.

John Goodman

The local Football coach gets Daniels to give all his team a physical, and at practice afterwards, a spider got into one of the helmets, and one of the boys dies. Dr Metcalf: “From what I hear it wasn’t a hard tackle. I only wish I knew. You see, Dr Jennings examined him last.”

Dr Metcalf

Jennings is being called Doctor Death by the local kids, but his luck changes in the most tragic way, when Dr Metcalf is the next spider victim. His wife saw the spider, but the local coroner is sceptical about spider bite. When an autopsy indicates that the death might have been caused by an unknown toxin, he decides to pursue the spider lead, and he contacts Julian Sands, who sends one of his research students. Again, he says it’s unlikely, since even a Black Widow bite wouldn’t usually be enough to kill a healthy adult, but when they find bites on all three victims, he has to accept the possibility, and he calls Sands to tell him to come down. Meanwhile, Sands asks him to find a specimen.

This leads to a nicely tense scene in Margaret’s house looking for the spider.

Sands arrives, and examines one of the spiders. He surmises that the original male who came over has bred an army of drone spiders, which can’t reproduce, but somewhere the original male has bred a queen, and will be hatching a generation of fertile spiders. They’re looking for an enclosed space, dark, warm, musty.

Sands recognises the spider webs in a photo taken by Daniels’ wife of their barn, and investigates. Because he’s posh and English, you know he’s not going to make it.

Dead Julian Sands

Daniels gets to his house, to find his family, and there’s a lot of spiders. This is brilliantly tense, as they’re driven up the stairs into a bathroom by the approaching spiders. All except Daniels make it out of the house, and Goodman makes a heroic last minute appearance to save them all.

Rock and Roll

But Daniels is trapped in the house, and when he falls from the upper stairs, he falls right through the rotten floor into his cellar – the location of the nest. It’s up to him to face his crippling fear and deal with the nest. Trapped under one of his fallen wine racks, he has to fend off the huge male spider by chucking bottles of brandy at it, and finally by propelling it, on fire into the nest with a nail gun.

A love this film, and have done ever since it was a surprise. It’s beautifully written, by Don Jakoby and Wesley Strick, with well crafted characters, snappy dialogue, a plot that makes sense, and tons of suspense. It was directed by longtime Spielberg producer Frank Marshall with a sure touch, and it has a really nice score by Trevor Jones, even if it does end with a crappy 80s song on the end titles.

After this film, and a few adverts, it switches to the middle of Annie Hall for no reason I can fathom. The tape ends after about 30 minutes of that.

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Cyrano De Bergerac – tape 1356

OK, here’s something you probably never expected. Channel 4 presenting a season of films starring Gerard Depardieu, introduced by Antoine de Caunes.

Yes, Antoine de Caunes off of Rapido and Eurotrash. I bet you didn’t know he was a secret aficionado of French New Wave cinema.

The film itself is well worth watching, if you like subtitled films. The English subtitles were written by Anthony Burgess, and Cyrano’s dialogue is written in rhyme, so they’re a lot of fun.

The music, occasionally, sounds like an outrageous rip-off of Danny Elfman’s Batman March. It’s a bit shameless. And it seems I’m not the first person to notice. (To be fair to myself, I remember noticing when I saw the film in the cinema. Yes, I have, occasionally, watched French films in the cinema.)

Full marks to Tropicana for doing a French advert in the ad break.

Tropicana

Cyrano de Bergerac is a great swordsman, as well as a poet, who has an enormous nose, which means he’s forever fighting people about it. The opening scene involves him disrupting a theatrical production, then fighting with a man who insulted him, all the while reeling off better nose-based insults.

This movie looks like it must have been expensive, as this first scene, which lasts for almost half an hour, takes place in a packed theatre with hundreds of extras in every shot.

Cyrano has long been in love with his beautiful cousin, Roxane, but can’t tell her because he’s so ugly. So when she tells him she’s fallen in love with one of the cadets in his care, he’s rather upset, but obviously can’t ignore her plea to protect him.

So when the young Christian turns up for his first day, and ignores all his comrades’ advice not to mention Cyrano’s nose, Cyrano has to curb his legendary temper. He tells Christian that Roxane is, indeed, in love with her, and that she wants him to send her a letter. But this is a problem for Christian, as he’s not a writer. So Cyrano offers to write the letter for him.

There’s some choice film damage on this print. When’s the last time you saw film damage on a movie? This would have been a film only recently in cinemas, and yet the print used for TV broadcast has stuff like this on it. Different times.

Film Damage

Tropicana aren’t the only ones doing special adverts – here’s one by Piat d’Or

Roxane has a third suitor, a superior officer in charge of assignments, and when he’s beaten to marriage by Christian, with Cyrano’s help, he assigns them both to battle.

As the battle drags on, Cyrano keeps sending letters to Roxane on Christian’s behalf, until she suddenly arrives among the men, which might have been a problem, given the men were close to starving. But the resourceful Roxane has brought a coach full of food for them. She’d make a better general than the man in charge.

Christian is mortally wounded in battle, but before he can tell Roxane the truth about who wrote the letters, and therefore who she really loves, he dies.

A long time later, Roxane is still in mourning, and Cyrano is writing pamphlets, making enemies. His other love rival comes to warn Roxane that someone might try to kill him. Which they do by dropping a log on him.

But he’s a hardy soul, and he keeps his date with Roxane, and spends about fifteen minutes weaving his last words, as at last Roxane realises it was he who wrote the letters. It must hold some record for the longest death scene ever.

After the film, the recording stops.

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The Pit And The Pendulum – tape 1357

Gosh, we’re definitely hitting a rich seam of 80s horror in these tapes. Here’s a movie I forgot even existed. It’s Stuart ‘Reanimator’ Gordon’s remake of Roger Corman’s adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. Actually, it doesn’t say it’s adapted from the Corman version, I just made that up. But any movie with both Lance Henrikson and Oliver Reed can’t possibly be bad, can it?

It opens in Spain, 1492. Lance Henrikson is part of the Spanish Inquisition, retrospectively condemning a dead man (long dead by the state of the corpse) of heresy, thus seizing all his family’s wealth as property of the church. His assistant is Jeffrey Coombs off of Reanimator, with some nifty medieval eyeglasses.

Jeffrey Coombs

The corpse is then given twenty lashes, then his bones put into a pestle. “The Pope will hear of this” says one of the man’s relatives – maybe his wife. “The Pope is in Rome” says one of the onlookers, a contribution about as useful as saying “The Pope is Catholic”.

They grind up the man’s bones, and use the dust to make a large hourglass. We;; at least they’ll have a nice heirloom. Except the wife and son are taken to be tortured and killed.

After the credits, there’s a baker couple making bread to sell t the Auto da Fe, although she doesn’t like selling bread around inquisition and torture. She gets arrested when trying to stop the inquisitors whipping a small boy, and she’s taken to Torquemada (Henrikson) for torture. Basically, so far, it’s been torture and execution and not much else.

Sticking strongly to its 80s horror roots, the woman is stripped naked as virtually the first order of business which Torquemada and the rest of the inquisition leer at her.

I'm not a witch

But the examination is cut short when Torquemada sees her crucifix, pulls it off, and walks out. They’re probably long lost family.

In her cell, she meets another older woman, Esmerelda, also accused by witchcraft. During torture, Esmerelda almost dies, then they start stretching the younger woman, Maria, on the rack. She can hear Esmerelda’s voice, like a gender-swapped Obi Wan Kenobi, calling to her, and she finds herself away from the torture in some kind of imaginary garden.

But she returns to the torture, and Torquemada bursts in to get them to stop. I swear she’s his long lost daughter or something.

Torquemada sleeps underneath a sword suspended on thread, borrowing from Damocles, there.

Maria’s husband escapes his torturer, but then manages to get captured again. An emissary from the Pope arrives in the form of Oliver Reed, to demand that the torture and executions should stop, and that Torquemada should return to Rome for an audience. Torquemada does not take this assessment of his job performance well, and has Oliver Reed killed.

Oliver Reed

Then he returns his attention to Maria. Nope, there’s nothing interesting in his interest in her – he just loves her. “Like you love all sinners?” “No, just you.” He promises to let her husband live if she “shows him how to love”.

“Come lie with me under the sword” is not a great chat up line, unless it’s a euphemism.

Oh god, now he can’t perform. “You’ve cast a spell on my manhood.”

And so she can’t tell anyone, he cuts out her tongue. This really is vile. No idea if the original story was as bad as this, though.

Esmerelda does something to her, and she seems to die, which upsets Torquemada somewhat. So he orders her burnt at the stake, and has Maria’s body entombed.

On her way to the pyre, Esmerelda helps herself to a few mouthfuls of gunpowder.

Mistress Esmerelda

As she’s tied to the stake, she curses everyone in earshot, including Torquemada. He’s not having it. “If I lie, my my tongue be…” and he doesn’t even get to finish the thought before his mouth is full of blood.

Then Esmerelda explodes.

Cut to Maria, still alive, and entombed. her husband is set beneath the pendulum of the title, and over the pit filled with spikes. With the help of some rats, he escapes, and does some swashbuckling. This film really doesn’t know if it wants to be schlock horror or Errol Flynn.

He fights his way through some men, then finds Maria’s tomb, and opens it up. Is she dead? Torquemada thinks so, when he arrives with more men. “Join her in death”. But SURPRISE!

Maria's Alive

Even Esmerelda turns up again, in a vision, cursing Torquemada again. He comes across a woman praying, and when he sees her face, she’s the wife at the start of the film who was strangled. He stumbles and lnocks over the hourglass with the dead man’s bone dust in it, which magically reforms into his dead body.

Eventually driven back to his torture chamber by all these visions (?) he gets his just desserts as he falls into his own pit, onto the spikes.

Torquemada Impaled

Maria and husband free all the prisoners, then Jeffrey Combs lets them all out in a ludicrously happy ending.

Wow, that was not good.

After this, recording switches to a strange movie which alleges it’s looking at relationships. Check out the top of the line CGI.

What makes relationships work

It’s called Talking Walls, It purports to be a documentary about the relationships taking place in a motel. A young man is doing his master’s thesis on relationships, so he’s set up cameras spying into all the rooms. I couldn’t take more than five minutes of this. Credit spot – Art Director is Rick Carter, who would later be the go-to production designer for Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis.

There’s about half an hour of this before that recording stops, and underneath, Charles Bronson is being driven to the airport in this car.

Cowboy Car

It even has black and white seat covers. I think this film is Death Wish. He returns to New York, and we can tell he’s in New York because the camera starts with an extreme close-up of a postcard of ‘Glittering New York’ before pulling back to see him coming through the arrivals. That’s top notch filmmaking there.

There’s a fair chunk of this movie before the tape ends.

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Cape Fear – tape 1466

After the end of an episode of The Second Heimat: A New Generation, there’s a news report about US bombings in Baghdad following an alleged failed assassination attempt on former President Bush. There’s actually two reports, one before the film, then one afterwards, read by Sally Lawrence.

Then, the original Cape Fear, which I’ve never seen. I didn’t much like the Scorsese remake.

Gregory Peck is the lawyer, and Robert Mitchum is Max Cady, the man who went to prison, but blames Peck for not mounting a proper defence.

“You’re ten minutes late” says Peck’s daughter. “It’s a mistake to teach women how to tell time, they always use it against you.” Ho ho ho, you suave old sexist you.

Cady acts in a generally threatening way to Peck, but nothing that’s actually arrestable. The police hassle him, but he gets a lawyer to charge harrassment.

Martin Balsam plays Peck’s boss.

Martin Balsam and Gregory Peck

Telly Savalas plays the PI hired to look after Peck and his family.

Telly Savalas

Cady viciously attacks a woman, but she’s so scared she won’t testify against him. Then he scares his daughter so that she runs into traffic.

The daughter in this version is played a lot younger than in Scorsese’s remake, and Cady’s threat to rape her is what pushes Peck to have some thugs beat him up. Which then sets in motion Peck’s dismissal from the state bar, and Peck’s plan to lure Cady to the boat on the river at Cape Fear, where, presumably, he can kill him in self defence.

Lying in wait

In the Scorsese remake, Nick Nolte was in some way partially guilty – he suppressed evidence that might have acquitted Cady, because he knew he was guilty. In this version there’s no such implication. Peck was a witness, and told the truth. In some ways, this makes Cady’s actions more chilling. Here he’s a force of nature, in Scorsese’s he’s an angel of vengeance. I know Cady frames his behaviour here as revenge, but the film doesn’t for a second want to suggest that revenge is justified here. So it is all about the innocent man, and how far he will go to protect himself and his family.

The end of this version feels more suspenseful that the remake, mainly because it doesn’t descend into grand guignol quite so much. But the resolution of the plot by a half hearted fistfight is a tad disappointing. And I’d have liked the women to have been a little more assertive

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th June 1993 – 00:20

After the movie, there’s the second news report, obviously updated with more detailed information. Then announcer Sally Lawrence wishes us a good night. This being BBC2 there’s no national anthem, as BBC2 is the republican channel.

Siskel and Ebert – tape 1361

This tape opens with the end of an interview with former Prime Minister James Callahan, talking about the Queen, on Newsnight.

Then there’s a trailer for Naked Hollywood.

Then, an episode of Siskel and Ebert, the movie review show featuring critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, which was shown for a short time on BBC2.

In it, the pair review:

The reviews rattle through, and it’s nice to get the often differing opinions. In the end credits, it’s such a long time ago, that Roger Ebert is still using a typewriter, although Gene Siskel uses a computer.

And being a US programme, they have a short segment at the end giving the likely UK release dates of the films reviewed.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th July 1992 – 23:15

After this, recording switches to a piece of Entertainment Tonight, looking at Death Becomes Her.

Then recording switches again, to Sky Movies, for The Reel Guide to Summer presented by Sabra Williams.

Sabra Williams

It’s basically another excuse to play a load of Electronic Press Kit material for the upcoming movies, and the ones featured are:

The programme covers the Far and Away premiere at the Empire Leicester Square.

Empire Leicester Square

After this,. back to Siskel & Ebert with reviews of:

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd August 1992 – 23:15

After this, we switch to the end of Newsnight with a report on the failures of the London Ambulance Service.

Then, more from Siskel and Evert and their reviews of

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th August 1992 – 23:15

After this, recording switches to a programme called Hollywood Reports on Thames. Richard Jobson presents another bunch of EPK material, covering Alien 3, a piece on the Max Factor Museum, under threat of closure, a brief interview with Patrick MacNee, and a profile of Weird Al Yankovic.

Then, over to Sky Movies for a behind the scenes on Pacific Heights, Lethal Weapon 3, another puff piece on Death Becomes Her, and yet another BTS on Alien 3.

Then, after all this frankly numbing film coverage, what better to find is a new series of Film 92, with reviews of

There’s an interview with Tim Robbins about Bob Roberts which, in the current political world, seems hugely prescient.

Tom Brook files a report on the Woody Allen scandal.

There’s also a preview to films opening in the Autumn.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th September 1992 – 22:10

In the next episode, Barry reviews

There’s a brief tribute to the late Anthony Perkins.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 14th September 1992 – 22:10

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Point Blank, and an epic trailer for Lynda La Plante’s Civvies, so it’s Hello to Jason Isaacs.

Then there’s the start of an episode of Cagney and Lacey, during which the tape ends.

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